EDDINGTON, Maine — Those who were channel surfing on their radios this past Sunday afternoon and found a station carrying NFL games could have found 1340 WNZS-AM.
Dan Priestley, who owns the station as well as two others with wife, Jocelynn, said that was their first NFL game and it will continue through the rest of the NFL season.
The station carried the doubleheader between the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders followed by the St. Louis Rams against the Arizona Cardinals.
This Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m., they will air the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Detroit Lions followed by the game between the Cleveland Browns and Raiders.
Those games are offered by the Compass Media Networks and Priestley has signed a contract to carry games for the rest of the season.
“We’re carrying it as a service to our listeners. We hope they like it,” said Priestley, who observed that no other local stations had an extensive NFL package.
New England Patriots games are being carried exclusively by WWMJ 95.7 FM-Ellsworth, and WZON 620 AM-Bangor broadcasts the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games courtesy of their agreement with Dial Global.
WZON sports director Toby Nelson added that they are also carrying the playoff games.
Priestly said normally he would have had to pay a rights fee to broadcast the games, “but since we’re over halfway through the season, the network waived it.”
He added that he is hoping to expand the NFL coverage to one of his other stations, 1400 WWNZ-AM. That station will carry different NFL games.
“We’d like to make a real commitment to carry four, five or six games on a weekend,” said Priestley, who is also exploring carrying playoff games.
“We’re willing to try stuff that doesn’t hurt us. I don’t think being associated with the NFL can hurt you,” said Priestley.
Priestley’s two AM stations are news and talk stations while his FM station, WGUY 94.1 FM, plays oldies music and doesn’t carry sports.
They are 1,000-watt stations and their studio is located in Eddington. They are licensed in Veazie.
This isn’t Priestley’s first venture into sports programming.
His station has aired NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races on WNZS for four years and will continue to do so.
The station carried 34 of the 36 Sprint Cup races this past season through an agreement with MotorRacingNetwork and the Performance Racing Network.
He said the other two Sprint Cup races were carried by an “independent network and I didn’t have the rights.”
He said his station may carry “two-thirds” of the Nationwide Series races. The Nationwide Series is the tour right below the Sprint Cup and several Sprint Cup regulars also run Nationwide Series races.